POTENTIAL CHANGES IN ECOSYSTEM SERVICES FROM LAND USE POLICY IN PUERTO RICO
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Ecosystem services are self- evidently important to society as natural capital inputs into economic markets, the basis for life-support systems such as clean air, clean water, and climate control, and are integral to quality of life issues. These services provided by communities of living organisms in their natural environment are, in some instances, invaluable and irreplaceable. Conservation planners must focus on ecosystem services as conservation priorities and target levels of ecosystem services as conservation goals, in order to manage and conserve these beneficial services. This paper explores 1) how Puerto Rico’s draft national land use plan changes the environment’s capacity to provide ecosystem services and 2) the limitations to describing ecosystem services and values. The modeled losses in ecosystem service provision that occur with policy implementation support that ecosystem service conservation is not a goal of the draft land use plan. Limitations of modeling and mapping services likely inhibit policy consideration of ecosystem services, as do the limitations of describing numeric output of models, where they exist. Yet, qualitative outputs from the models provide useful information to policy makers about how land use policies will affect ecosystem services. This study is useful for future projects that wish to utilize ecosystem service mapping and valuation to review policy decision.
DepartmentNicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences
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